Who Needs a Sidebar?

Are sidebars in web pages really needed? I guess that all depends on the website.

By Garry Conn - Mon, Oct 22 2012, 10:49pm CDT

Ever since I took this website online I have always had at least one sidebar. In fact, there was a point in time when I had FOUR sidebars. Well, I got to thinking about this and came to the conclusion that on my website, I don't think sidebars are necessary.

I do a lot of stuff with Linux and one thing that I noticed about my website is that it looks like crap in Lynx. If it looks like crap in Lynx, then it pretty much looks like crap to search engines. And I don't want that. Most importantly though, if my website looks like crap in Lynx, then it looks absolutely terrible for people who use text based web browsers and older mobile phones (non-smartphones). That's not going to work either!

So part of cleaning things up tonight included removing the sidebar and all the links within it. Those links can be easily found on the home page. Without a sidebar navigating is pretty simple. Find the latest page updates from the home page or RSS feed, read the page, click back to the home page and repeat the process.

And also let's not forget about the navigation menu -- that will remain on the top of every page. However, I will also start trimming that down as well. Drop down menus --even search engine friendly ones-- turns out aren't so search engine friendly or text based web browser friendly. People have to hit TAB TAB TAB TAB TAB TAB TAB TAB TAB TAB a million times before they can get down into the content of the page. That's not very SEO friendly or user friendly in my opinion. I'll correct that soon as well.